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3/13/2012
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SAP Performance App Runs On Hana, iPad

SAP certifies processing-intensive Business Planning and Consolidation application to run on speedy in-memory database.

SAP has a long list of applications that will benefit from its Hana in-memory technology, and on Tuesday it added a crucial one, SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, to the portfolio of apps certified to run on the database. What's more, executives will be able to do their planning from a new iPad app to be introduced by May.

Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) is used by more than 4,000 SAP customers for setting financial and operational performance goals in areas such as sales and production. The app is a centerpiece of SAP's Enterprise Performance Management suite 10.0, but its performance may suffer when planning involves large data sets. The Hana in-memory database, which holds large-scale, detailed data entirely in random-access memory rather than on hard drive disks, is expected to speed query and analysis activities.

"Many of our customers view in-memory-enabled planning as a killer application," Dave Williams, SAP's head of solution marketing for EPM solutions, told InformationWeek. "Planning is logic-processing intensive and it frequently involves querying large data sets and writing information back into the system."

[ Want more on SAP strategy? Read SAP Takes On Oracle Database, Salesforce Cloud. ]

Running on Hana, BPC will gain up to 21 times faster access to planning data and faster input of what-if scenario-planning data back into the system, Williams said.

BPC is based on the Outlooksoft performance management suite SAP acquired in 2007. In the wake of the acquisition, SAP ported a version of the app onto its NetWeaver middleware to make it compatible with SAP applications and infrastructure.

About half of current users are on the .Net version of the app, while the other half are on NetWeaver. Only the NetWeaver version of BPC will be compatible with Hana (version 1.0, service pack 3), as SAP Business Warehouse 7.3, SAP's NetWeaver-based data warehouse, is also required. The upgrade is available at no charge through service pack 6 of NetWeaver BPC version 10.0.

SAP has no plans to move the .Net version of BPC onto Hana, but Williams said that app is being kept up to data and will soon support Microsoft SQL Server 2012, which incorporates in-memory analysis capabilities.

SAP was expected to demonstrate a prototype BPC app for iPad on Tuesday. The app will enable executives to not only review performance data and drill down on exception conditions, it will also enable them to take action by, say, rejecting and updating forecasts and planning assumptions without having to go to a separate desktop application. The iPad app is expected to be available in time for SAP's annual Sapphire event in May.

BPC will continue add in-memory performance enhancements, Williams said, but it will do so through "non-disruptive" service packs that will be released on roughly a quarterly basis. One such update will add automated variance analysis, whereby drill paths and deep data tied to the root causes of exception conditions will be prepopulated behind the scenes. This feature is already available in the .Net version of BPC.

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